Political news

Transcript of President Obama's victory speech in Chicago. Source: Federal News Service

Editor's Note: NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future.

(Cheers, applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (Chanting.) Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The Associated Press

Washington state's race for governor remains too close to call, with hundreds of thousands of ballots left to count.

Early results Tuesday night showed Democrat Jay Inslee with a slight lead over Republican Rob McKenna. The two candidates have been competing in one of the most watched and most expensive gubernatorial races in the country, with the campaigns and outside political groups raising and spending some $40 million in the race.

Gary Davis / KPLU

Washington voters are narrowly approving same-sex marriage in the state, following the lead of voters in Maryland and Maine, where ballot measures on same-sex unions also are holding slim leads.

With about half of the expected vote counted Tuesday night, Referendum 74 was passing with 53 percent of the vote.

The referendum asked voters to approve or reject the state's new law legalizing same-sex marriage. That law was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year, but it's been on hold pending the election's outcome.

Americans elected Barack Obama to a second term Tuesday, with the president capturing or on the verge of winning all of the key states that had been at the center of his hard-fought campaign against Republican Mitt Romney.

"Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you," Obama said early Wednesday at a speech before thousands of supporters in Chicago. "I have learned from you. And you've made me a better president.

Still unsure how you want to spend your evening as the exit polls arrive? KPLU has you covered. We have aggregated multiple events around Seattle tonight, so take your pick or enjoy an evening of bar hopping around the city.

A look at preliminary results from exit polling in Washington state conducted by Edison Media Research for The Associated Press and television networks:

ECONOMY: Washington voters were focused on the economy with a majority calling it the top problem facing the country — though more voters say it's on the mend than think it's getting worse. Just over 1 in 5 say the economy is now excellent or good.

Here's the plan for our Election Night coverage:

-- Starting between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., we'll be live-blogging. Not here in The Two-Way, but right on the homefront of NPR.org and on our "Election Night 2012" results page. If all goes as planned, our updates should flow on to your screen automatically.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

People in Seattle City Hall live and breathe politics. For the past few months, they’ve also been able to eat politics. Obama and Romney sugar cookies have been selling well at the City Grind Espresso stand at Seattle City Hall, although owner Jon Streeter says there hasn't been quite the same hype as in 2008.

"They've been steady, and I think there are more places to get them, so I think overall they're probably  selling as well, but for us they're not nearly the big deal they were four years ago," Streeter said.

Police are investigating an overnight burglary at the Seattle headquarters of the state Democrat Party.

Spokesman Mark Jamieson says it was reported at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday by someone arriving for work.

He says there's no immediate indication of a political motivation. He says it's a burglary in a building that happens to house campaign folks.

State Democrats Communications Director Benton Strong says the building at 901 Rainier Ave. S. also serves as an office for Organizing for America and Jay Inslee for Washington.

The first big wave of results for elections in Washington state are expected at about 8:15 pm. Here's a countdown clock set for that time.

As the voting day has progressed, we've seen some reports of irregularities.. Throughout the day, we'll be surveying our reporters and other news organizations and keep track of significant irregularities in this post.

So far, the big problem has been long lines. Some voters have had to wait hours in line to cast their ballot in battleground states like Florida and Virginia and those affected by Superstorm Sandy like New York.

We'll start with Florida:

Big Dubya / Flickr

This is the first presidential election in which no one in Washington is voting in a voting booth. Lots of people prefer voting by mail – it’s convenient, they don’t have to rush from work to get to the polls before they close. But in downtown Seattle, KPLU found lots of people who wax nostalgic for the good old days of voting in person - among them, Terri Vail, Antonio Hicks, Brad Bloomquist, and Peter Orange.

An alleged case of ballot tampering in Oregon’s Clackamas County has implications for races statewide. Officials say a volunteer elections worker is suspected of marking votes for Republicans in races a voter had left blank.

Clackamas County is considered a key swing area in statewide races in Oregon. It's also home to several hotly contested legislative districts that could determine the balance of power in the Oregon House.

**Refresh this page often for the latest updates.**

A quick head's up on what this is. The Battleground is an aggregation of NPR member stations' content produced during election night. It's curated by the staff at NPR Digital Services, including Eric Athas, Teresa Gorman, Will Snyder, Kim Perry and Erin Teare Martin. The list of participating stations and states is posted at the bottom.

(Revised at 5:46 pm ET)

On the final day of the 2012 campaign for the White House, President Obama and Mitt Romney are making the last push for votes in states each believes critical to achieving the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory.

Obama was scheduled to campaign in three swing states, while Romney had events planned in four. The only overlap was in Ohio, considered the linchpin of the election.

As Eyder said earlier, "it's almost over."

The campaign, that is.

But if you haven't had enough of it all yet, here's are three places to go if you're looking for tips on what to watch for and when to watch for it.

All you political junkies with iPhones and Android devices … there’s an app waiting for you.

The election results mobile app from the Washington Secretary of State’s office will give you up-to-date results for all federal, state and local races. The secretary of state’s office released the iPhone app two years ago and added the Android one this year because of strong demand.

As relentlessly as the candidates have courted voters, they've also shown their love to donors.

A report by the Center for Responsive Politics places the total cost of the 2012 elections at an estimated $6 billion, which would make it the most expensive election in U.S. history

Abortion isn't usually a major issue in presidential campaigns.

But this year is different.

The final days of an election cycle bring an obsession with the short term — the very short term. Daily tracking polls. A relentless get-it, post-it, blog-it news cycle. Trending topics on Twitter telling us something (though it's not always clear what).

But for just a moment, let's slow it down, look at what's happening over a somewhat longer time frame, and see what it tells us about what the country will look like for the winner of the presidential race.

The Long View

Tuesday, as those who follow politics probably know, is Election Day. The battle between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney has been contentious, expensive, personal, illuminating, ugly, frustrating, petty, enlightening and, above all, long. And it is expected to be close.

This week's Political Junkie column is an attempt to guide you to what's at stake on Tuesday, both in the contest for the White House as well as the 33 Senate and 435 House seats on the ballot.

It's almost over. We're just hours from Election Day 2012, which means President Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney are blitzing the battleground states in the final day of campaigning.

Here's ABC News with the schedule:

Pastors Use Pulpits To Ease Election Day Rancor

Nov 4, 2012

PORTLAND — In this election, religion has sometimes played a divisive role. But on election night, churches throughout the Northwest — and the country — will try to use their pulpits to ease the rancor of politics.

Electoral politics don’t always have the nicest soundtrack. You’ve heard the ominous music in the ads.

“Good for them — bad for us,” says one spot.

“Doesn’t America deserve better?” says another.

The final poll released Sunday by the Pew Research Center ahead of Tuesday's election shows President Obama has a 3 percentage point lead over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney just two days before the general election.

Obama leads Romney 48 percent to 45 percent in the poll of 2,709 likely voters, which has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points. The poll was conducted Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

Here's more from the Pew news release:

Voters will decide 174 ballot propositions across 37 states this election. Reid Wilson, the editor in chief of National Journal's Hotline, says he believes these decisions will change the day-to-day lives of average Americans more than who wins the presidency.

He spoke to Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered, about some key initiatives across the country.

Interview Highlights

On same-sex marriage

With Election Day just two days away, the presidential campaigns of Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney are spending the final hours criss-crossing the swing states trying to get their supporters to the polls.

Update 6:15 p.m. EDT:

Election Day is promising many firsts — and not just the obvious ones.

Yes, the country could get its first Mormon president if Republican Mitt Romney is elected. And of course, it could get its first two-term African-American commander in chief if President Obama is re-elected.

But Tuesday offers a smorgasbord of other potential "first" opportunities across the nation — from New Hampshire, which could end up with the nation's first all-female congressional delegation, to Arizona, which could elect its first Hispanic U.S. senator.

Both campaigns want to claim momentum heading into the final days of the campaign. This is especially true in battleground states like Iowa, where enthusiasm and voter turnout can make all the difference.

It's a common political metaphor — momentum — but is it a good one?

There's presidential politics and then there's puppet politics. You may recall that in the first presidential debate GOP contender Mitt Romney made a statement that caused the two worlds to collide.

"I am going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too," Romney said, referring to moderator Jim Lehrer. "But I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it."